Sprint Jumps On The Friendly Bandwagon
By Carlo Longino, Mon May 03 14:45:00 GMT 2004

US carrier Sprint, following Nextel's lead, has announced a "fair and flexible" plan to help users who go over their allotted monthly minutes.

Nextel said last week that instead of charging users onerous per-minute overage charges, they'd bump users up to the next pricing tier if it saved them money. Sprint is now following suit with a new plan where users pay $35 for 300 minutes, then are charged automatically $2.50 for 25- or 50-minute blocks thereafter.

It's much cheaper than Sprint's typical 40 cents per minute overage charge, and clearly an effort to improve a big consumer complaint, but the plan may be doomed by its complexity. For instance, a user who subscribes to a 500-minute normal plan would pay $40 a month, but a "fair and flexible" subscriber would pay $55 for 500 minutes. But if that normal subscriber went 100 minutes over, they'd pay $80, whereas on the new plan, the charge would only be $65.

US cellular service is becoming commoditized as coverage and prices even out across the top carriers, and competition in areas like customer service and these secondary charges is going to ramp up as carriers look for some measure of differentiation. While Sprint's obviously trying to move in the right direction, they'd do better to make things a little simpler.